Log On and Learn: Devices, Sites and Apps for Kids

A look at some of the coolest devices, sites, and apps for kids to log on and learn.

Related Link: "A" is for App



Mobile Apps

TeacherMate Innovations for Learning's $100 handheld computer, designed for use in schools, helps children begin reading, writing, and math lessons. It's much simpler and a little smaller than a Nintendo DS. The next generation should have wireless capability. www.Sesamestreet.org Sesame Street has one of the best educational Web sites out there for children 6 and under. It's free, packed with games and online videos, and instantly engaging. (What youngster doesn't love Elmo?) Each week, there's a new theme, such as body parts or wild animals. First Words The First Words series of pre-K apps for the iPhone — the only smartphone for which developers have created sophisticated educational apps so far — focuses on learning letters and spelling. Different versions, each of which costs $1.99, focus on animals, vehicles, and household items.
Intel Classmate PC Its sturdy shell and built-in handle make the Classmate PC ideal for children, while the Atom processor provides adult-size power. Preloaded applications — including Internet Explorer and an e-reader — allow the device to function in the real world. Two million are in use in schools worldwide, but at up to $499 retail, it's not cheap. Discovery Education: Science At discoveryeducation.com/science, a classroom-targeted site that costs $1,700 per school building per year, students can "learn science as scientists." We love the interactive glossary; the word "cell," for example, offers a clickable diagram with animations of mitochondria and nucleus. Oregon's board of ed recently approved this site as a K-5 science "textbook." KidCalc Math Fun Designed for children aged 2 to 8, KidCalc is perhaps the best math app for young kids. It teaches basic arithmetic, counting, sorting, and (our favorite) number tracing in a colorful interface with pictures of elephants and one-eyed aliens. It's also versatile — parents can set the skill level. The $1.99 app comes in seasonal versions for Christmas, Valentine's Day, and Easter.
XO One Laptop Per Child's $199 XO laptop has a user-friendly interface. Designed for classroom use — it's mostly distributed in developing countries, though Birmingham, Alabama, has bought 15,000 of them for its public-school kids — it has a "neighborhood"-based network setup that connects all the XOs in a class. In 2012, OLPC hopes to introduce a cheaper, next-generation XO — a tablet PC with a touch screen. Dreambox Learning: Math Dreambox.com has a rich online city of math games for K-3 kids. Do your math and you'll earn virtual coins to play carnival games. (Prizes: virtual teddy bears!) Teachers get data on progress. The classroom version costs about $30 per student per year, while the home version is $13 per month. Clifford's Be Big With Words Featuring the beloved big red dog from the book series and PBS show, Scholastic's app ($0.99) for kids aged 2 to 6 teaches spelling, word building, phonetics, and vocabulary. Do well and characters from the show will say, "Absolutely amazing!"

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  • Linda Hahner

    You missed two great free websites for preschool age children--ReadToday.Net and the LiteracyCenter.Net. According to Quantcast these sites have many more visitors than Dreambox and they are completely free to parents and teachers. They offer pre and early reading material in four languages--Spanish, English, French, and German. Enjoy!